The President is doing his job, but doing his job is conflicting with the job he is doing. Leadership of a nation that prizes above all things freedom, liberty, the pursuit of happiness is a difficult thing at best. There is nothing quite like it in all of human experience.
Leadership of such a body requires that you take extreme action in some cases, action that might be deemed reprehensible. In some instances it may even be deemed illegal. However, that is the burden of such leadership. You must take the good with the bad. You must walk the tightrope and understand explicitly to the best of your ability the possible repercussions of your actions. And if you decide to act because as a leader you have decided that you must in order to protect the people, even though your actions may be perceived by some as illegal, then act you will.
President Obama is one such leader.
I do not doubt his sincerity in the pursuit of peace and I understand his rationale in the prosecution of war. These times just like any other are perilous for very specific reasons.
Terrorism has drawn us deep into the dark shadows of insidious conflict unlike we ever have been before, not against a nation-state, but rather a nation of believers that cross national boundaries, conducting war on any scale they can based solely on the tools they can procure and the amount of hell they can unleash.
This is not combat on the field of war where your enemy is dressed in a uniform across a line. This is combat where you enemy may be dressed just like you on your side of the line, perfectly willing to blow himself up in order to kill you, and send a message.
President Bush prosecuted this conflict as the War on Terror. I have and continue to believe the War on Terror is a failed premise. I believe in the Abrogation of Terror, and though the President and his administration do not use this term I believe that is exactly what they seek to accomplish … and they have met with success.
The Abrogation of Terror requires that we lead with diplomacy, heart and mind, clandestine and tactical, that we acknowledge the root of the evil and from whence it comes, and be honest about our role in it as the United States of America seeking global hegemony. We are in large part responsible for the creation of this madness. We would do well to remember that.
The Abrogation of Terror requires that we work with other entities to remove the rationale for terror, partnering with nations to fight poverty and the desire for people to join the cause because they have no choice. This is absolutely essential if we are to win the hearts and minds of those arrayed against us. However, this is not all
Abrogation also requires that we sharpen our tools of war, that our warriors who fight in the dark actually elevate their level of readiness, utilizing every technological advantage at their disposal, partnered with old-school human intelligence, and the will to strike whenever, wherever, however, within the confines of reason, though it may be stretched to include … collateral damage.
And this brings us to the truth of our situation. The President and his team have been exemplary in their prosecution against terror. They have utilized unmanned drones to an unprecedented degree, combining human intelligence, technological surveillance, and warriors on the ground to find, focus, and execute with extreme prejudice against those who claim the mantle of terrorist. They are terribly effective and have made the act of being a terrorist in nations of interdiction a very perilous exercise, such that your life may be lost along with whomever is in the vicinity be they friends and family or just countrymen unknown.
However, this success does not come without cost.
Senator Paul Rand called the President to account last week. Progressives have been calling the President to account on this point for some time. How does a leader and his administration hold fast to freedom, yet sanction the indiscriminate killing of people outside the confines of the combat field. This is the nature of what we prosecute against terror, and it exists on a tightrope.
In the midst of this conflict may be Americans of deadly intent against their own, like Anwar al-Aulaqi. They are combatants, but the line becomes blurred. thus the legality of protecting American interests becomes the balancing act that persists, with no clear path forward or backward.
Senator Rand Paul asked AG Holder a question regarding whether the President had the authority to prosecute drone war against Americans on American soil. Could he use a drone to kill an American without due process? The AG answered honestly, with due consideration, as a trained lawyer should. He fell into a trap.
Interestingly enough Senator Paul decided to grandstand on the strength of AG holder’s answer and gain political points. He looked good doing it, protecting American civil liberties against the tyranny of government. He was taking advantage of the situation, staging it as the right thing to do for an ulterior motive. We can’t forget how the previous week he voted against the Violence Against Women Act. We know who the Senator is. We haven’t forgotten.
AG Holder was forced to respond by emphatically stating that the President can’t use a drone to fire a missile at some American sitting down for dinner with his family in suburbia. The answer was quick, curt, short, and to the point.
However, the question of the Abrogation of Terror still remains. Have we gone too far with the use of drone strikes? Must we marginalize the effectiveness of the President’s tools by demanding he reveal more of how the identification and authorization of killing is done? Will doing so lower our level of security and compromise the overall effort against terror? And finally, if he does stop the killing, and changes the plan, will our security suffer? If it does, can we quantify how much? And is the level of lesser security opening us to another terrorist attack by leaving the combatants alive to plot and plan? Will the American people accept this risk? These are all questions that must be considered critically.
The Aspiring Critical Thinker,